When you realize that tomato sauce is really just cooked tomatoes, oil, and aromatics, you start to see it can be used as a base for dishes far beyond Italian-inspired. Having a quart of cooked tomato sauce not only gives you a head start on the ingredient prep, but also reduces cooking time since you’re starting with a rich, reduced base. Change the spice profile, add a few different ingredients, and sub in rice for the pasta and you’ve got a completely different meal from the one the night before. Serve with ¾ to 1 cup of cooked rice per person.
The tubed ginger paste that you find in the refrigerated section of many produce departments is a good shortcut here.
- Heat the oil, garlic, and pepper flakes in a large pot over medium-high heat until the garlic starts to sizzle, just a couple of minutes.
- Stir in the tomatoes. Use the wine or water to rinse out the cans and add to the pot. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, until the sauce thickens and the flavors meld, about 15 minutes. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add enough tomato paste so that you’ve made a thick, full-bodied sauce, not soup. Simmer to blend the flavors, a few minutes longer. Cool the sauce and divide it among 3 sealed containers. (Can be refrigerated for a couple of weeks or frozen for several months.)
- Cook: the skinned side of 6 large boneless, skinless chicken thighs that have been oiled, salted, peppered, and sprinkled with 1½ teaspoons ground coriander, and 1½ teaspoons ground cumin in a large pot over medium-high heat until browned, about 5 minutes.
- Turn the chicken and add: 1 diced medium onion and 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger and cook a minute or two longer. Add 2 tablespoons garam masala, 1 quart Garlicky Tomato Sauce (page 117), and 1 can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk. Bring to a simmer and continue to simmer for 10 minutes to blend the flavors. Adjust the seasonings, stir in ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro, and serve.
Reprinted with permission from How to Cook Without a Book by Pam Anderson, copyright © 2018. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House.